David Victor
Wed, 24 Dec 2003 08:13:02 PST
Dear all,

Outside everything has finished for last year and we await the first of 
this year.  This will almost certainly be in the next week when the first 
winter aconites are scheduled to flower.  Every year they flower on 
Christmas day or within a week of it.  Close behind will be the first 
snowdrops: I noticed a couple in bud this morning.  Also, the peony tips 
are showing all around the garden.

Inside things are a little busier.  In the cold house there are still 
plenty of Oxalis in bud, but the light is so poor that they only open very 
infrequently: At this time of the year it is dark by 4pm and dawn is around 
8.30 am, so days are short and the clouds are heavy!  Also in that house 
there is a Cyrtanthus elatus x falcatus just coming out, as well as a 
couple of Veltheimia.

In the heated house (not hot only 5C minimum) the succulent Oxalis are in 
flower.  I grow three different species, O. succulenta, gigantea and one 
unknown.  Interesting rather than exciting.  Bomarea salsilla is just 
opening, hanging from some of the lighting cables.  In bud are a series of 
Tropaeolum, including hookerianum, incisum, lepidum and sessilifolium, 
climbing up one window on netting.

Most excitingly at this time of the year, however, are the Pelargonium 
species of Sections Hoarea and Polyactium.  P. schitzopetalum is currently 
in bloom, with its incredible circle of fringed yellow flowers.  Most of 
the others are in leaf, most of which will be shed over the next few weeks 
before flowering takes place.  If any of you don't know these plants, you 
are missing a great treat, with their incredible differences of form.  Like 
Oxalis they are one of the genera that should really be grown by 
geophytophiles or whatever it is we are!

However, for all of that, problaby the two most exciting plants in flower 
at the moment are both clematis.  C. cirrhosa 'Freckles' is flowering well 
over the doorway to the heated house, whilst in the alpine house C. 
nepaulensis is covered with its beautiful white bells with purple 
stamens.  I think that even I would have to admit they are the glory of our 
Christmas plants.

Have a great holiday, everyone.

Best regards,
David Victor 

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